The rain may have delayed the start of the final leg of the Beach Wrestling World Series here in Constanta, Romania, but it didn’t dampen the mood of the fans or wrestlers alike as we got underway in the afternoon. It didn’t take long for the sand to start flying as our Sand Superstars staked their claims for the last gold of the year and another chance for ANOC World Beach Games ranking points.
Stefania PRICEPUTU (ROU) is the hot favourite to win back-to-back 50kg Beach Wrestling World Champion titles and she was quick off the mark to record a win in front of her home crowd over Justine Fanny VIGOUROUX (FRA).
Her closest competitor Emine CATALOGLU (TUR) also got her leg off to a winning start with a fine win over Hungarian Bianka RECZI. It was also a great day for Bulgarian Miglena Georgieva SELISHKA who had been drawn in the prelim round, which she won within a minute over the Moldovan Maria LEORDA and then followed that up with a win over Laura Elizabeth WHITE from the US.
The women’s 60kg division has seen some impressive performances over the previous legs of the Series and today was no exception with Iryna KHARIV (UKR) keeping up her excellent form that has saw her win two legs this year. With a win over Maria Victoria BAEZ DILONE (ESP) the 32-year-old kept the gold well in her sights.
Compatriot Daria MEDVETSKA had been tipped to challenge in Constanta and will be looking to bounce back tomorrow as she slipped to a 2-3 defeat to another home crowd favourite, Elena Simona IONESCU (ROU), in a close encounter. American Mia Kaur MACALUSO has been loving life in Romania with a 4th placed finish in the Junior’s yesterday and will be looking to keep her good form going after a 4-0 win over fellow American Josephine Sue WEARMOUTH after just 21 seconds.
It’s been difficult to call a winner in any of the bouts in the super competitive women’s 70kg division in 2022 and today has been no different. Winner of leg 4 in Katerini, Yuliia KREMEZNA MALYK (UKR) faced home sand star Adina Ionela IRIMIA (ROU) and it was the Romanian, roared on by her home crowd, who came out on top with a 3-0 win after 1 minute 59 seconds.
Bronze medallist in Greece, Hatice Ece TEKIN (TUR) faced Agoro PAPAVASILEIOU (GRE) in her opener; it was Tekin who came out on top with a narrow 1-2 victory. As with Selishka in the 50kg, Bulgaria’s Mimi Nikolova HRISTOVA was drawn in the prelim round against Esmeralda Georgiana CATARGIU (ROU) and won before notching a second victory over Paula Aurelia Izabela ROTARU, also from Romania.
Defending women’s +70kg champion Catalina AXENTE had secured her Series title on Mamaia Beach last year and it could be a de ja vu as she looked in good form in her opening bout with a 3-0 win over Noelia LALIN CANDA (ESP). She will face stiff opposition as was seen with wins for both Aikaterini Eirini PITSIAVA (GRE) and Liudmyla PAVLOVETS TYCHYNA (UKR) over Elena Irina MARGAS (ROU) and Stefania ZACHEILA (GRE) respectively.
American Isabeau Marie SHALACK picked up a win over compatriot Maren Angelina ANDERSON in her Series debut. Another Series debutant, Cathrine FRILSETH (NOR), will also be happy with her days’ work, defeating Romanian Daria Maria TELECAN.
Levan KELEKHSASHVILI (GEO) is looking for a three-peat of titles in the men’s 70kg weight category and the glorious Georgian had to dig deep to pick up a round 1 win over Azerbaijan’s Rubail IBRAHIMLI to keep his triple title dream alive.
Yunus COSKUN (TUR) picked up a fine win over Mitch COOK (USA) as did Stefan Ionut COMAN who got the better of compatriot Norbert MOLNOS. Azerbaijan’s Ramiz HASANOV also picked up an opening day win over popular Frenchman Quentin Jean-René STICKER to keep his World title dreams on track.
It’s been nip and tuck between U21 World and European Championship bronze medallist Nika KENTCHADZE (GEO) and Omid Abdolali KAMALIAGHDAM (AZE) all Series in the men’s 80kg and both men will be happy to head into tomorrow’s finals’ day having both recorded wins in the opening bouts. Kentchadze picked up his victory over Romanian Maxim VASILIOGLO with just 34 seconds on the clock and Kamaliaghdam didn’t hang around either, earning his win over Bulgarian Dimitar Atanasov ANGELOV in only 56 seconds.
Hungarian Csaba VIDA defeated American Jamal MORRIS in the quickest win of the day, taking only 4 seconds to put the American on his back and take the win. It was a much better day for Morris’ compatriot Tyler Mackenzie LOETHEN who picked up an opening bout win over Ewan Emile LEPRINCE (FRA).
There was concern for another of the Glorious Georgians, Davit KHUTSISHVILI, who’s shoulder popped out during the men’s 90kg bout with Mihai Nicolae PALAGHIA (ROU) but such is the strength, resilience and will to win of our Sand Superheroes, that he simply got it put back in place, got up and proceeded to take the win with 19 seconds still remaining on the clock.
Ibrahim YUSUBOV (AZE) will have dreamt about Series gold and after a win over Patrik PUESPOEKI (HUN) he is a step closer to making that dream come true. His countryman Farid JABBAROV will also be delighted with his day’s work picking up a win over Vasile Madalin MINZALA (ROU) in just 32 seconds.
It was a surprise return to the Sandy Circle for Azerbaijani head coach and former +90kg World Champion, 2021’s runner up Oyan NAZARIANI, who had picked up a bad arm injury during the season opener in Turkey followed by surgery. Not only did he return still in the same season, but the Big Gun fired as he didn’t drop a point on his way to a 3-0 win over Rafail GKIRNIS (GRE).
Mamuka KORDZAIA (GEO) showed that the 28-year-old Big Gun will need to be at his best as the 31-yea-old blew his opponent away with a dominant 5-0 win over Luc Rene ZANETTON (FRA) to signal his golden intentions. Zafar ALIYEV (AZE) also impressed as he grappled his way to a 5-0 win of his own over American Mark Anthony BONILLA. Home sand star Vasile Vlad CARAS also picked up an opening day win, defeating compatriot Rares Daniel CHINTOAN.
What a first day on the sandy circles with that beach wrestling vibe and crowd overcoming the weather to shine through. A lot more wrestling to do, sand to send flying and crowds to drive crazy tomorrow as we reach the climax of the 2022 edition of the Beach World Series. If you can’t make it sand side tune in to the website for the live stream to ensure you see all the action as we coronate this year’s kings and queens of the beach.